Well the day came and went.
I have been dreading and fighting against it for years, but in the end, it’s okay.
I’m talking about making that all important but difficult decision to never drive again.
This process started many years ago. After a number of incidents which Glenys thought were close calls but I didn’t even realise they’d happened, it got to the stage where she couldn’t be in the car with me if I was driving. In other words she drove us everywhere or on rare occasions, I just went alone. And over many years, she talked to me about her concerns.
When the YOD Key Worker Program started, Glenys and I discussed these concerns with my Key Worker for about 8 months before I decided to sit a combined Occupational Therapist (followed by) and an on-road Driving School instructor assessment. Over those 8 months there was what I describe to be a little chipping away at me until I realised the importance of having the assessment.
I saw it as my loss of independence. But also, I can’t process and make decisions or plan well, so I didn’t understand that I could manage with plans that were different to what I’d been doing for years. It’s not just about not liking change, it’s about the difficulty that I have with complex thinking and decision making.
So I did undertake the assessment December 2013 and was ‘allowed’ to drive under certain conditions including no longer than 30 minutes from home, because it was too tiring for my brain to stay focused to drive any longer.
In January 2015 it was reduced to 15 minutes because I had hardly driven more than about 10 minutes a week during the previous 12 months.
But all along, Glenys still had concerns. Although I’ve still got some insight into my condition, I think in some ways I didn’t have true insight in this. For example, although Glenys discussed the idea of me buying a bike to maintain my exercise program and my independence, and we did buy one, if the weather forecast was for rain, extreme wind or a really cold morning, I would decide the night before my ride to the pool, that I was going to drive the next morning. Once I decided that, it didn’t matter if I’d slept poorly, felt unwell, or anything, I automatically drove and never reassessed the situation.
Well the decider was when one day, early June 2015, we were walking together and I kept cutting Glenys off, walking into her. So she just went around the back of me to my other side. I asked her (a little panicky) where she was going and she said that we were just going to the traffic lights and then we’d cross the road. I asked her what traffic lights, so she pointed at the lights overhanging just above us. I told her that I couldn’t see any traffic lights. So she said there’s a red traffic light just there (as she pointed to it). I replied again that I couldn’t see any traffic lights.
Glenys took my hand and said not to worry about it because we’re ready to cross the road, and as we turned to cross, I said “I can see the button to push, but I can’t see any lights”.
Of course Glenys had concerns of the implications for me as a pedestrian, as a cyclist, and as a driver, and concern as she had all along, for the others around or with me. So she asked me to let her do all of the driving until we could talk with my Doctor. I agreed for her to explain to 2 mates that I wasn’t currently driving and to talk about the traffic light episode. They offered to pick me up for my exercise regime.
As it turns out, my GP was on leave and I didn’t want to see any other doctor, so we waited two months until we could talk with her.
A few days before that appointment I decided that because I’d been managing to still maintain my independence and my life for those two months, as it had been prior to the ‘traffic lights’ episode, I would manage.
So in the end, I just decided that I wouldn’t drive again.
I also now realise that over the past few years, different strategies have been put into place to support this outcome.
As you know, I’ve gone from being a non cyclist to 7 months later, riding 562 kms through Vietnam and Cambodia over 9 days; I’m about to walk and cycle the Camino de Santiago across the top of Spain; and I have a great support team in Glenys, family and my mates to get anywhere when I can’t cycle.
This decision was a tough one, and I can understand how others with medical conditions must feel. But, at least for me and in my situation, in the end it’s okay.